Bucks (11-16, 2-13 road, 11th East) @ Bulls (9-17, 5-7 home, 13th East)
Bucks Stats: Offense 19th (101.2 pts/100 poss), Defense 27th (106.9), Rebounding 9th (.509 rr), Pace 20rd (93.4)
Bulls Stats: Offense 30th (95.3 pts/100 poss), Defense 10th (101.6), Rebounding 16th (.501 rr), Pace 13th (95.2)
Bucks Injuries: Desmond Mason is out 6-8 weeks with a torn ligament in his left thumb. David Noel is out with a wrist injury.
07/08 Series: Bucks 1-0. The Bucks beat the Bulls 78-72 in their home opener on November 3. The teams also split two matchups in the preseason. Redd had 27/9/5 while Yi Jianlian had a then-career high 16/8.
- While the Bucks have fallen on hard times (4-12 in their last 16), they stumble into Chicago to face a Bulls team that's been the biggest underachiever in the league, finally costing Scott Skiles his job earlier this week. In other words, it could get ugly.
- Following Pete Myers' stint coaching the Bulls in their 94-79 loss in San Antonio on Wednesday, Skiles assistant Jim Boylan has taken over as interim coach for the rest of the season. The Bucks will hope he has less success in his debut than Larry Krystkowiak, who saw his team beat the Spurs at the BC last spring. The Bulls have now dropped three straight.
- Boylan will reportedly bench Gordon in favor of Chris Duhon tonight, but that doesn't seem to be the answer many were looking for. Bulls fans in the know have been extremely displeased with the team's substitution patterns, as Skiles consistently favored the quickly-depreciating Ben Wallace over more productive youngsters such as Joakim Noah, Tyrus Thomas and Aaron Gray.
- I was on the Bulls' bandwagon before the start of the season, but look up and down their roster and they've uniformly performed below expectations. Ben Wallace has been hurt and getting old while Kirk Hinrich just can't make a shot. But the self-imposed contract limbo Luol Deng and Ben Gordon brought on themselves is likely also a factor in the struggles of the Bulls' two leading scorer. Deng turned down a reported $13 million per season, while Gordon more inexplicably rejected a $10 million per year offer. I guess they (along with guys like Iguodala and Okafor) didn't get the memo that they won't find that kind of money in a mostly capped-out free agent market next summer, but way to dream big, guys.
Larry Krystkowiak called out his team for selfish play following the drubbing in Denver.
"I think we need to recommit to where we were in training camp, where things were pretty simple," he said after practice Thursday. "Everybody was battling and not worrying about putting up any kind of numbers. Not worrying about anything else. It was all about us. It was all about us and there weren't any 'I's' in the equation."
That seems fairly transparently aimed at the backcourt, but in truth guys like Bogut also need to play with more assertiveness. Bogut has always had problems against Ben Wallace, so tonight will be a good test--Wallace has struggled mightily all year, but Bogut really needs to start performing offensively for the Bucks to have a chance at challenging for a playoff spot. Bogut has scored in double-figures just twice in his last six games.
- Don't blame Joe Smith for the Bulls' problems. The former Buck had 14/10 in the first meeting between the teams and is coming off a 19/11 performance on Wednesday. Why do I have the feeling he's due for another good game tonight?
- Bobby Simmons is set to get his second start of the year, but Bucks fans will hope he performs better in his hometown than he did in Denver on Wednesday. Simmons has shot 13/43 since returning from a personal absence, including a 1/7 fg, 2-point performance on Wednesday. Simmons wasn't performing off the bench, and if he can't perform as a starter the Bucks may have no choice but to give more time to the three guard lineup or a big lineup with Yi and CV at the forward spots.
- Check out Blog-a-Bull for more on the Bulls.